by Ben P, Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 11:41:35 AM EST
Many people today assume that free-market liberalism was the basis of this country and its revolution. But this is inaccurate. It was not that the so-called founding fathers were hostile to capitalism, because they weren't. It was that they thought liberty and republicanism were more important, and they were best advanced through the practice of "civic virtue" and a concern for the commonweal (and philosophy that today would be known as "good governmentalism") This philosophy's cultural hearth was New England, and as the following data will clearly show, its influence is still strongly felt. Simply put, those regions of the country that adhere most firmly to this tradition - be they New England proper, or what historians refer to as the Greater New England pale of settlement - have the highest standard of living and quality of life. In competition with this New England tradition (which also can be said to include the Pennsylvania Quaker tradition as well) were, roughly speaking to other strains: a hierarchical, quasi-aristocratic deep south "planterocracy," whose cultural hearth was South Carolina, and a middle colonies/upper south "populist" tradition most clearly manifested in the figure of Andrew Jackson. Arguably, there are other traditions that have developed over time: particularly in California and in "greater Utah" (i.e. Mormon culture) - although it needs to be said that these traditions have roots in parts of the various strains of the Atlantic seaboard political traditions.
Broadly speaking, these competing "founding" ideologies represent one of perhaps four major historical currents* that animate contemporary American politics, but it is this current about which the least is said, and arguably, it is this tradition that tells us the most about contemporary American politics.
* - the other three include: 1) the urban/rural (or, more precisely, the urban, inner suburb/rural, exurb) divide, 2) the African American political/cultural tradition and the politics of race, 3) the politics of anti-federalism, or anti-statism.